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ADDICTION RESEARCH DIRECTOR ALAN I. LESHNER NAMED TO LEAD AAAS
October 24 — The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today announced the appointment of its new chief executive officer — a psychologist and neuroscientist who has spent the last seven years directing the nation's efforts to use "the power of science" to combat drug addiction.
Alan I. Leshner
AAAS Chief Executive Officer
Alan I. Leshner, currently director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, will replace Richard S. Nicholson, who is retiring from the position he has held since 1989. Dr. Leshner will begin his tenure as CEO of AAAS and publisher of its peer-reviewed journal, Science, on 3 December 2001.
"AAAS is wonderfully positioned to expand its leadership role on behalf of science," Dr. Leshner said. "Building on a strong base, there is a tremendous opportunity to bring science closer to the American public and to make sure that the science we all love is both useful and used."
Dr. Leshner, who has studied extensively the biological bases of behavior, was appointed to NIDA in 1994. As director, Dr. Leshner has been responsible for oversight of the agency that supports more than 85 percent of all research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Under his leadership, NIDA has increasingly explored the impact of drug addiction on the brain and sought new ways to address addiction through both behavioral and biomedical means. In recent years, Dr. Leshner has played a highly visible role in providing the public with a scientific explanation of the disease of addiction, while promoting the benefits of science-based treatment.
Previously, from 1988 to 1994, Dr. Leshner had been with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), serving for two years as acting director of the agency. Prior to working at NIMH, Dr. Leshner held several senior positions at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where he focused on basic research in the biological, behavioral and social sciences, and on science education.
Dr. Leshner received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Franklin and Marshall College, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physiological psychology from Rutgers University. Franklin and Marshall College and the Pavlov Medical University in St. Petersburg, Russia, have both awarded Dr. Leshner honorary Doctor of Science Degrees. A member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Leshner has also been elected a fellow of many professional societies. Until 1979, when he came to Washington, DC, to work for the NSF, Dr. Leshner was Professor of Psychology at Bucknell University.
During Dr. Nicholson's tenure, AAAS has undergone dramatic changes. The organization has become an increasingly vocal participant in the major scientific policy issues of the day in the United States and abroad. It has played a key role in improving science and mathematics education, in increasing the public's understanding of science, and in opening up opportunities in the sciences for women, minorities and people with disabilities. Dr. Nicholson and Dr. Floyd Bloom, former editor-in-chief of Science, guided the prestigious journal into the electronic age. AAAS now offers several important electronic research tools for scientists of all ages.